Valverde... and the rebels


CYCLISME - 2015 - bardet (romain) - (fra) - - fuglsang (jakob) - (dan) - - valverde (alejandro) -(esp) - - meintjes (louis) - (afs) - *** Local Caption *** ©

Following his fifth triumph on the Flèche Wallonne, Alejandro Valverde is perhaps more than ever the man to beat on the 103rd edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The contenders for ‘La Doyenne' are not, however, throwing in the towel. The peloton will include more than his adversaries at Huy, such as other challengers like the winner of Paris-Roubaix Greg van Avermaet, Simon Gerrans and Tom Dumoulin…

While he was dominating races in Spain as a youngster and in the junior ranks, the parents of Alejandro Valverde's rivals often called the organizers to inform them of the presence of ‘El Imbatido,' to help their kids avoid yet another humiliation. The years have passed and the riders no longer need their parents to get their hands on the entry lists. They have learned how to deal with the “ego blows”, but it is a similar feeling that permeates in the peloton when approaching the Ardennes. “I only have to wait for Alejandro to retire”, half-joked second place Dan Martin during the press conference punctuating the dream day of the Spaniard, winner yesterday of his fifth Flèche Wallone title and fourth consecutive. In his current form, which has never been more dazzling when you think about his 10 victories so far in 2017, Alejandro Valverde comes in, once again, as the overwhelming favourite of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which he has won three times (2006, 2008 and 2015).
However, while the psychological ascendancy will be real at the start of the Sunday roundtrip, the scenarios are generally more varied… and 'La Doyenne' and its vagaries can work to the advantage of several contenders. Thus, Dan Martin, who has always come up short against Valverde on the Flèche Wallone, did manage to win the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, leaving his biggest Ardennes rival to finish 3rd. The rebellion could come from many others, whether it is the Sky contingent who put Henao (4th) and Kwiatkowski (7th) in the lead group at Huy, BMC that took a podium result with Dylan Teuns and is ready to wager on the appetite of Greg van Avermaet (7th in 2011) at Liège, the hyper-active Orica-Scott squad that has added former winner Simon Gerrans to join Albasini, the winner of the White Jersey on the Tour de France Adam Yates, his twin brother Simon, Colombia's Esteban Chaves, and Sunweb who will rely on Tom Dumoulin in addition to Warren Barguil, 6th on the final climb of the Mur de Huy. Finally, Romain Bardet, runner-up on the 2016 Tour de France, took his best finish in his fourth Flèche Wallonne (13th) while already thinking about ‘La Doyenne'.

25 teams: the main participants

South Africa
Team Dimension Data: Anton (Spa), Pauwels (Bel)
Team Sunweb: Barguil (Fra), Dumoulin (Ned), Matthews (Aus)
Bora-Hansgrohe: Majka (Pol), McCarthy (Aus)
Orica-Scott: Gerrans (Aus), A.Yates, S.Yates (Gbr), Albasini (Che)
Bahrain-Merida: Gasparotto, Visconti (Ita), J.Izagirre (Spa)
Etixx-Quick Step: D.Martin (Irl), Vakoc (Rtc)
Lotto-Soudal: Vanendert, Wellens (Bel)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Van Hecke (Bel)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert: Martin (Fra)
WB Veranclassic Aquality Project: Delfosse, Pardini (Bel)
Movistar Team: Valverde, Moreno, Soler (Spa), Betancur (Col)
United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Costa (Por), Meintjes (Zaf), Ulissi (Ita)
United States
BMC Racing Team: Van Avermaet, Teuns (Bel), S.Sanchez (Spa)
Cannondale-Drapac: Uran (Col), Formolo (Ita), Woods (Can)
Trek-Segafredo: Pantano (Col), Felline (Ita)
AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Latour, Vuillermoz (Fra), Pozzovivo (Ita)
FDJ: Vichot, Molard (Fra), Eiking (Nor)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Edet, Simon (Fra), Mate (Spa)
Direct Energie: Voeckler, Calmejane, Hivert (Fra)
Great Britain  
Team Sky: Kwiatkowski (Pol), Henao (Col), Rosa (Ita)
Aqua Blue Sport: Nordhaug (Nor)
Astana Pro Team: Fuglsang (Dan), Kangert (Est), L-L.Sanchez (Spa)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Tankink (Ned)
Roompot-Nederlandse Lotrij : Weening (Ned)
Team Katusha: Lammertink (Ned), Taaramae (Est)

The race in pictures


CYCLISME - 2015 - bardet (romain) - (fra) - - fuglsang (jakob) - (dan) - - valverde (alejandro) -(esp) - - meintjes (louis) - (afs) - *** Local Caption *** ©

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